The Rays lefty turned out to be just the antidote needed for Baltimore, which lit up the 23-year-old for a career-high nine runs (eight earned) en route to Sunday's sweep-avoiding 10-7 win at Tropicana Field. The victory ended a stretch of five consecutive losses to Tampa Bay and saw Orioles starter Chris Tillman continue his road dominance, turning in six solid innings and improving to 4-0 in six games away from Camden Yards.
"I feel like it's been a little while since this has happened, how hard they were hitting the baseball; I mean, they were on the barrel," Moore said of an Orioles lineup held to a run on six hits over the first two games of the series. "In Detroit I gave up six hits, but I didn't feel as many of those were barrel-finders. They weren't gap-seeking missiles. ... Tonight, it was a legitimate beatdown. They definitely found the barrel a lot."
The Orioles (35-28) jumped on Moore from the get-go with back-to-back RBI doubles from J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones in the first inning. Danny Valencia doubled to open the second -- the third of six two-baggers in the first three innings -- and scored on Alexi Casilla's sacrifice fly.
One out later, Manny Machado extended his Major League lead to 27 doubles -- driving in another run in the process -- and Hardy delivered his second two-base hit to stretch the Orioles' lead to five.
"Take a little load off our backs," Hardy said of the Orioles' early onslaught. "We went out there. We were just being aggressive. We were just trying to swing the bat. We got some hits; it felt good."
Moore had not gone more than two innings in his previous two outings because of a rainout followed by a poor start against Detroit, a game in which he said his release point was off. He found no solace in that regard Sunday afternoon, as an Orioles club that entered the day leading the Majors in average and slugging percentage got back on track in a big way, totaling seven extra-base hits in the first four innings.
"When you figure it out, let me know," manager Buck Showalter said of the reason for the offensive turnaround. "Guys are grinding it. They're frustrated. Everybody looks for that perfection of consistency, which is hard to find. We're facing really good pitching. We faced a really good pitcher again today, and we were able to string some things together."
Jones gave Baltimore its ninth run with a one-out solo homer to deep center field in the fourth inning, and Moore exited after five. The Orioles collected 12 hits and a walk in his 100-pitch outing, with four starters posting multi-hit efforts and seven of nine reaching base safely off of Moore. Outfielder Steve Pearce went 3-for-3 with two runs scored.
"We were still pretty confident in our offense even though we hadn't scored many runs the last two days," catcher Matt Wieters said. "They've got a good staff over there, especially good starting pitching. We knew it was going to be tough, but it's always nice to be able to get a good lead, and Tillman was able to make it stand up."
The offensive barrage was plenty for Tillman, who held the Rays to three runs (two earned) and extended to 11 road games -- dating back to last season -- his streak in which he has allowed three or fewer runs. The 25-year-old right-hander turned in his third quality start in as many games at Tropicana Field, and he collected his first win there and second overall in 10 career games against Tampa Bay.
Tillman allowed a second-inning run on Desmond Jennings' infield hit, and second baseman Casilla made a great play behind him to corral Wieters' throw and get Jennings trying to steal second.
"That ball cut; it was like a slider or something like that," said Casilla, adding that the play was more of a reaction. "I knew that if I just caught it, he would be safe, so I had to spin around and try to tag him. It happened. I got lucky."
Tillman retired 11 of the next 12, allowing only a solo homer to Ben Zobrist over that stretch, and the Rays added an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth.
The Orioles got it right back, with Nick Markakis doubling in Jones to tie a season-high 10 runs and give the O's their seventh double of the afternoon, which also tied a season high. The run was charged to reliever Cesar Ramos, on for his second inning of work.
"It's important," Tillman said of not letting the score dictate how he pitched. "I struggled with that when I was younger. The guys go out there and put up some runs and you think you can just cruise, but that's not the case. You've got to go out there and pitch as if it's a 0-0 ballgame. It's one of the learning curves in this game. You've got to go out there no matter what and pitch your butt off."
Tillman's mindset got him through six strong innings, and Darren O'Day tossed a scoreless seventh before handing the ball off to lefty Brian Matusz, who let the Rays creep back into the game. Matusz served up a two-run homer to Sam Fuld, the outfielder's first since May 27, 2011, in the bottom of the eighth. Two outs later, Luke Scott drove in another with an RBI single to bring the Rays within four. Matusz exited in favor of right-hander Tommy Hunter, who got out of the inning with a strikeout.
Hunter got into a jam in the ninth inning, allowing the Rays two baserunners, and Jose Lobaton's single off closer Jim Johnson allowed Tampa Bay to move within three. But the O's got out of it with a pop-up to end the game.
"I don't think it was a given," Showalter said of riding the early lead to a win. "The American League East is tough. You've got to play nine innings, which our guys did. They kept adding on, trying to.
"It's hard in the Major Leagues. Talented hitters and things are going to happen. We've had games at home where nobody dreamed that we'd get the tying run to the plate, but we did. You've got to keep competing, and knowing that some small play in the fourth or fifth inning might be the difference in the game later on."